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Does Cooking Increase Lutein Content?

By
Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS
1-minute read

Ask the Diva: Does Cooking Increase Lutein Content?

Q. I've read that lutein can help protect your eyes. However, I notice that cooked kale and spinach contain more lutein than raw kale and spinach. I've always understood heat/cooking effectively reduces nutrients in food. Why isn't it the case here?

A. Keep in mind that greens like spinach and kale cook down quite a bit. Two cups of raw kale, for example, will measure just a cup or so after cooking. So, a cup of cooked greens is a bigger serving than a cup of raw greens and, therefore, contains more lutein. Also, it's not always true that cooking decreases nutrient values. The lycopene in tomatoes, for example, is enhanced by cooking. Finally, as I mentioned in a recent episode, roasting increases the amount of antioxidants in peanuts.

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Kale image courtesy of Shutterstock

About the Author

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS

Monica Reinagel is a board-certified licensed nutritionist, author, and the creator of one of iTunes' most highly ranked health and fitness podcasts. Her advice is regularly featured on the TODAY show, Dr. Oz, NPR, and in the nation's leading newspapers, magazines, and websites. Do you have a nutrition question? Call the Nutrition Diva listener line at 443-961-6206. Your question could be featured on the show.